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Alex’s Wonders In A Box


alexcyf

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Back in Q3 2020, with a heavy heart I decommissioned my mixed reef tank, https://www.sgreefclub.com/forum/topic/132375-alexs-home-tank/?do=findComment&comment=1227561 to make way for my move to my new place. After a 6 month hiatus from reefing, I am finally back!

 

So this thread document the start of my new reefing journey...

 

Thankful for the privilege to move together with my parents into a bigger place that allowed sufficient space for me to build a bigger tank with a fish room using the storeroom space under my stairs. So the first post will be dedicated to the tank design as well as some before and after shots :)

 

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Visualizing my fish room at my first visit..

 

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The plan is to knock off the wall and create a fish room right behind the main display tank, which is a 2 sided 622 hooded tank.

 

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and the artist impression of the tank.. except they don’t have a reef image to complete the illustration.

 

 

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As I had great experience working with CRA, I went back to look for Dan, whose company has been rebranded as Tank Culture, to build my tank.

Here are the 2D drawings of the tank/sump layout, inclusive of the frag/lps tank and quarantine tank housed in the Fish room.

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The 4.5ft frag/lps tank is connected to the main display and sump and both tanks are powered by 2 separate return pumps (always preferred to make the insurance if one fails). The Quarantine Tank is a separate IOS tank housed below the frag/lps tank.

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You might be wondering why I called it a LPS tank. It’s probably because I planned to keep the main display as a sps dominated tank hopefully with a show size angel (wish me luck..) So here’s the dimensions of both the tanks in the fish room.

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Here’s the detailed layout of the main display and sump. Standard bean animal overflow and a simple sump layout since I needed a big space for the skimmers and calcium reactor (finally trying out CR after more than a decade of reefing)

An interesting detail you may notice is the 28mm hole at the back of the display tank. For those wondering, this is meant to connect to a waste water outlet pipe which allows me to drain water direct into sewage during water change. Yup, perks of designing a tank around your renovation plans!

Same as my previous tank, the tank will be chilled by a condenser with trunking running across the false ceiling.


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Renovation is underway!342f3366630197f0a2b50f97a7ded2a0.jpg

And the tank is delivered! By the way, I opt for a galvanized iron frame to allow full access (without pillar) to my sump. Probably doable if you opt for aluminum frame too.
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Well my carpenter keep telling me it’s challenging to build the carpentry for a hooded tank. Realised so as I see them trying to fit the suspended hood to the tank like a glove.

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The almost completed carpentry for the display tank. Looks pretty much like how I imagined it. The air vent is also designed to allow circulation without allowing light from the tank to be “exposed” on the exterior.

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With the carpentry almost up, next up in action would be the trusty crew from Tank Culture. They had quite a tough time working in confined spaces to fulfill a rather demanding piping job..

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And seriously, I thought they did an amazing job with the setup and piping work. Everything looks neat and professional!

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Since it will take a while to cycle the tank, and I’m not gonna rush this critical process, my first task before any of the equipment is up, is to build the scape and kick start the cycling process. Even though I have yet to purchase most of the equipment.

Learnt from previous experience that it is much easier to build a scape dry. I chose to use a combination of caribsea life rock (love the shapes) and my bleached/cured rocks from my previous tank. Started by building the first tier of the 6 foot rockscape.
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Here’s the final two island scape.. not the best shot and it looks like it’s full of rocks.. oh well, I wanted many crevices for fishes to hid and swim. Had enough of aggressive fishes fighting over limited comfortable real estate.

Sand is in too. Went back to use the same sand I did for my mixed reef then. Caribsea Bimini Pink, which gives me a nice combination of fine white sand with small pinkish rock chips. Highly recommended, since plain white sand cost so much nowadays anyway..

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The next big task would be to fill this tank up with salt water! By the way, forgot to mention that I wasted about 600litres of rodi water (which means much more actual water) doing a leak test for the tanks.. feel so bad for the save water movement, but having a leak would be far worse I supposed.

Water change is one of the critical process to maintain a healthy reef tank and a lot of thought was devoted to keep this process as easy as possible..

Other than building an outlet for waste water, I also built an water inlet (complete with a basin) within the fish room. The RODI feeds from the water inlet and sends water into a 160litres mixing drum. This means I only need to turn on the RODI, pour my trusty tropic marin pro salt into the drum to prepare my new saltwater.

Here’s a short video of my mixing drum in her maiden mix. The drum is supported by two jebao pumps, one to provide circulation to mix the water and one to supply water to the display tank.

https://youtube.com/shorts/xatULaJXpbA?feature=share

And this is how it looks like filling up the tank.. ah, the scape looks slightly better on video hehe.

https://youtube.com/shorts/p3LbsincY3Y?feature=share

Well, even though it seems pretty effortless, it still took me two days to prepare the saltwater for my tank. Had to install an old wavemaker to provide circulation for the live sand in the interim.

Alright that’s all for now! Will share more on my choice of equipment and the installation process when I update the thread next!

Stay tuned!


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Impressive set up, will be following the thread.

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5x2.5x1.5ft Rimless Dream Tank (06/03/12)
Skimmer - Reefoctupus

Return Pump - 1 x Eheim 1264, 1 x water blaster 7k
Wavemaker - 2 x mp40es
Chiller - Daikin compressor with coil drop in
Lighting - 4 x 80w T5 Pair 1(6hrs23/12/12),Pair 2(16/06/12312hrs 2 x 80w De-lighting Retrofit (1/3/12) -(15/11/12)6hrs and 2 x 80w De-lighting Retrofit (13/10/12) -6hrs)
Reactor - Dosing pump (01/01/11)


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Welcome back.
It's quite hard to stay away for too long from this hobby. Exciting process. Definitely following to learn more.
Do you actually need RODI water for leak test? 

Ops! I must be too tired! I think I used tap water but I had to drain everything and wipe dry the tank to get rid of the water.

Haha will try to update my post hehe


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Massive build, camping here to follow ur thread!! 

Display Tank : 36" x 20" x 20" Herbie overflow box design, Sump : 36" x 21" x 17", Frag Tank : 16” x 20” x 16”, custom built by Tank Culture.

Lightings : Ecotech  Radion XR15 Pro x 2 for Main Display Tank, Inled R80 x 1 for Frag Tank.

Chiller : Dalkin 1hp compressor with build-in drop coil.

Skimmer : Skimz Octa SC205i Protein Skimmer.

FR : H2Ocean FMR75 Fluidised Media Reactor with Hailea HX-2500 (Feeder Pump) running Rowaphos.

CR : Skimz Monzter E Series CM122 Calcium Reactor.

BPR: Marine Source Biopellet  Reactor with Continuum Reef Biopellet Fuel. 

Main Return Pump : SICCE Syncra ADV 9.0 & Jebao ACQ-10000 Water Pump.

Wavemaker : Jebao MOW-9 x2 for Main Display Tank & Jebao SLW-20M  Sine Wave Pump for  Frag Tank.

Water Top Up: AutoAqua Smart ATO Lite.

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The first set of equipment that I set up, and will be sharing in this post is lighting.

Since the main display tank is going to be sps dominated, naturally my choice of my main lights was T5s. Most sps lovers would agree that even though T5 doesn’t create the fluorescence glow from sps, it gives a fuller light coverage. Personally, I always like the solid and natural coloration that sps display under T5s too.

Naturally, I went with my favorite T5 module and got the ATI Sunpower Dimmable module from Aquamarin. Well, to still get a little of the LED effect, I added back my China made led strips with 100% blue cree bulbs, which I had been very happy with the effect.

All of them are suspended from my hood using ati’s hanging kits, with the strips rotated at an angle.
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But for my LPS and frag tank, LED is a must. As I used AI Prime HD for my “frag sump” back in my mixed reef, I developed an affinity for AI lights. The blues are much better, at least to me, to bring out the eye popping colours in Zoas, Shrooms n lps. Hence, I invested in a new AI hydra 64HD for my lps tank and repaired my AI Prime (which went nuts after not using for 6 months).

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Now I am just waiting to save up to shop for some eye popping specimens to place under the AI lights :)


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Oh damn there’s tank thread already haha. Looking forward to see more post bro!

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There's nothing to see here. 

But do check out my articles! https://www.sgreefclub.com/home/

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/floratiaracoral/

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Time to move down to the sump.

Bought a lot of stuff for my new house, furniture, lights, accessories etc from taobao and definitely, need to get some stuff for my tank too.

Didn’t wanna save on equipment from China, in case anything goes wrong, but bio media i guess can’t go that wrong. Hence I bought almost 20kg of media. As it came by flight, e freight is almost the cost of the media but still I save half the cost hehe..

Went with two types of bio media, both with good reviews that they don’t melt like some other brands. Hopefully it’s true and works well to keep nutrients under control. We will see..

Here’s some photos of the media!

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If there is one advice that I can offer from my experiences, is to invest with equipment that can support your tank and reefing needs. Especially in this day and age when livestocks cost so much, at least much more than the time I started out.

So I am going to share a bit more in the following posts on my choices of equipment.

Starting with a full sump shot of my 5 by 1.5 ft sump!m!

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Circulation

First, a quick share of the heart of my tank. I am circulating both tanks with 2 return pump (1 Vectra VL2 and 1 Skimz Quietpro 6.0 I think). Both pumps feeds to both my display and my frag/lps tank, a common insurance practice in case one pump fails.

Chiller

Have always used a dip in coil + condenser for my tanks. Less equipment to circulate water to and less hot air around my tank. So if you have a chance to reno your place and build your tank together, do consider hiding the aircon trunking in your false ceiling. I did my and housed my condenser at my back yard!


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Nutrients export

Since I had an oversized skimmer for my old tank, I opted to use back the same Monzter SM251 that is more than enough for my current setup.

After 5 years of usage the skimmer is still pulling kopi o gao out of my tank, and I get to skip the run in phase!

Managed to prop my skimmer to the right height with a few leftover bricks from my reno.

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Another trusted equipment from my old tank is my Macroalgae Reactor MBR157. Other than helping my tank extract nutrients through the growth of chaeto, it also help to breed lots of pods that probably sustain a couple of dragonets, that I will buy soon.. By the way, 1 important perk of using a macro reactor is having a larger volume of water to grow macroalgae vs a smaller foot print in limited real estate in the sump. Not to mention, the Skimz reactor looks good in the sump and doesn’t cause a mess as it keeps algae growth within the reactor.

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Last piece of nutrient export is a skimz fluidized reactor FM100 to run chemical filtration. I run rowaphos on it to keep my phosphate at bay.

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One useful tip that I have learnt along the way, is to T off circulation from return pump, to feed the various reactors. Other than bigger less pump, it reduces the amount of heat that multiple pump produces in the sump.

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In this case, my FR takes water from my UV Sterillizer, which in turn gets its water from my Vectra.


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Maintaining Alkalinity

With a larger setup, I ditched my usual practice of using dosing since it’s too troublesome and costly to sustain the dosing.

Therefore I invested in a big ass Calcium Reactor from Skimz, CM202. Lucky I still managed to squeeze it into my sump. First time using a CR and really big thanks to Heng and Leon who has been sharing with me useful tips to install and manage this set of equipment.

So let’s talk about the whole setup and hopefully Reefers who are thinking about installing a CR, instead of a dosing pump, can find some useful information here.

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Essentially, a CR uses carbon dioxide, that forms carbonic acid, to melt the calcium media at a regulated rate. This in turns releases a balanced portion of dkh and calcium into the tank which helps you maintain 2/3 of your big 3 parameters at the same time.

Of cuz, you will need a CO2 canister and a Solenoid to regulate the discharge of CO2 to maintain the ph at the right acidity, usually 6.5-6.8. (By the way, any lower, you will risk melting the pump components) I chose the Art Pro Series which looks pretty sleek and easy to use. You will also need a ph controller to help you cut the power of the Solenoid when the ph is out of range. For this, I am using APEX which I will share more on subsequent post.

Btw, I ditched the bubble counter (which helps you visually track the rate of CO2 release into the reactor) since CM202 already has a bubble counter.

If you look at the picture of the Solenoid and Canister below, the right gauge shows you the remaining CO2 in the canister and left gauge shows the pressure which I set at around 20psi. Big knob controls pressure and small metal knob by the side controls the amount of CO2 released.

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Here’s the complicated tubes on top on my CR. Just glad that Heng set up everything for me nicely. In case you are wondering what is the small chamber of coral chips for, it’s to increase the PH of the water before it goes into the tank.

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But having a CR definitely will lower the PH of your tank. My lowest is currently at 7.86 but it’s bound to lower further as my uptake gets higher with more livestock. Have been also figuring out how to keep it higher or closer to 8.3.

Most common methods are to reduce the CO2 in your tank water, other than hoping my chaeto take up more CO2 at night (as I run it reverse light period) I am also trying prevent my skimmer taking air only within my tank cabinet/fish room, by running a hose that pulls air from my living room directly to one of my skimmer air intake. Will share again if this keeps increase my ph.


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Preventing a Disaster

Some may recall that I had a major tank crash for my mixed reef. So there are some things that I broke my piggy bank for, to prevent another heartbreaking incident..

Battery Backup

Definitely something that is worth getting, considering the cost vs any expensive fish or coral that you are getting. So I went with the Battery Backup from ecotech, mainly due to its compatibility with my Vectra. When power goes off, the Vectra will maintain sufficient circulation for both my display and frag/lps tank while help arrives. Some may ask why didn’t I chose to power my wavemakers instead, since the battery can last much longer.. guess I only need a few hours window and the return pump will keep both my tanks circulated.

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By the way, I also get sms alerts from my iSocket that helps me monitor my tank temperature too.875e7feda0fd4836f18dfcc9efe76560.jpg

Aquarium computer

With more and more sophisticated monitoring and automated equipment, and more tech savvy Reefers, it’s time to also jump onto the bang-wagon to get my self an APEX 2016.

First, the APEX comes with a few lab grade probes to monitor some key parameters, specifically Tank salinity, temperature and ph, on an app, for me. By the way, managed to get a nice holder to hold all the probes for me.

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A very important function that APEX plays, is that it helps control my equipment for me, based on manual configurations, like timing, or parameter based settings like ph, temperature etc. The computer sends the signal to the Apex energy bar to off or on specific equipment based on the configured settings. For example, as per mentioned in my previous post, the additional ph probe I installed into my CR helps me cut the Solenoid power when ph is less than 6.3.

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The APEX also controls my macroalgae reactor photo period and my UV Sterillizer based. Oh yes, to prevent wipe of fishes due to diseases, I also installed a Aqua ultraviolet 25W uv Sterillizer from rms. The uv sterillizer also keeps the water crystal clear and is definitely something Reefers should consider for their tanks.

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By the way, chaeto growth is looking good hur :)


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Think from the photos, you may be able to tell that I like things neat and organized.

Last post tonight is to illustrate this point..

Here’s a picture of my controller console / power supply panel. Ie my attempt to hide messy wirings and centralized the controllers that I always need to adjust. Especially since I have equipment from different brands and not all are on app/wifi control.

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And my mini storeroom under the stairs. No more nagging from wife taking up real estate in the living room and a little work station to do my reef chores!

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Looking forward to comments and more suggestions!


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7 minutes ago, Copperband said:

hey, just wondering is the concrete slab you use under the skimmer treated in any way ?
i might be wrong but there might be the issue of concrete slab leeching silicate and other nasties ,


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Actually those are clay bricks mostly used for gardening. I assumed clay are okie?

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Very good write up Alex! Always looking forward for your tank thread.

But I just want to ask why you didn’t put the UV output straight to your main tank to ensure better effectiveness (Correct me if I’m wrong)?

Because by releasing it your sump and return pump take the water from you sump and passing thru your UV again then your UV will only mainly kill water that go thru your sump and not fully.

This is just my thoughts. I used to do the same as you but in the end I went to cut and put a T pipe on my return pump to hook up my UV output.

Btw have you thought of any ways to increase your PH of your tank?


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Very good write up Alex! Always looking forward for your tank thread.

But I just want to ask why you didn’t put the UV output straight to your main tank to ensure better effectiveness (Correct me if I’m wrong)?

Because by releasing it your sump and return pump take the water from you sump and passing thru your UV again then your UV will only mainly kill water that go thru your sump and not fully.

This is just my thoughts. I used to do the same as you but in the end I went to cut and put a T pipe on my return pump to hook up my UV output.

Btw have you thought of any ways to increase your PH of your tank?


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Hey Darren!

That’s something I did not consider actually! Been focus on reducing the number of pumps and I did not consider this.

Maybe I can add in a new tee on one of the return pipes, but probably have to think through on the back flow issues to be safe. Perhaps for now, I try to direct the outlet towards my secondary return pump inlet instead haha.

The only way that I am trying is pulling air from outside cabinet direct to skimmer. I am also considering CO2 scrubber but long term media cost is also something to think about.


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